Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, after it produced only three witnesses that testified before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen Though FG initially expressed its intention to produce a total of six witnesses to substantiate all the allegations it levelled against the embattled CJN, however, shortly after the third witness was discharged, the prosecution counsel told the tribunal that it would be unnecessary to call further witnesses.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Aliyu Umar, SAN, told the tribunal that the defendant was at liberty to summon any of the listed but uncalled witnesses to testify on his behalf if he so wished. He was immediately overruled by the CCT Chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, even as Onnoghen’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, rejected the offer.
“This is the case of the prosecution. If it feels that it is satisfied with evidence of the three witnesses, then so be it”, the CCT Chairman held. Thereafter, Awomolo told the tribunal that the CJN would in line with section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, enter a no case submission with respect to all the allegations FG levelled against him. Awomolo, therefore, applied for record of proceedings of the tribunal to enable his client to file the necessary processes.
The case was subsequently adjourned till next week Friday for hearing of the no-case application by the embattled CJN, as well as for adoption of the final written addresses. Earlier in the proceeding, the third prosecution witness, PW-3, Mr. Ifeoma Okagbue, a staff of Standard Chartered Bank in Abuja, told the tribunal that it was not true that the defendant possessed either $1million or £1million in any of the five bank accounts that necessitated the charge. Okagbue who told the tribunal that she started managing Onnoghen’s bank accounts since 2015, gave a load down of both the opening and closing balance of all the accounts from January 2018 to January 2019.
She said the accounts were all linked to one Bank Verification Code, BVN, adding that the bank had upon securing an approval from the defendant, diverted funds from the accounts into various profit yielding ventures. The PW-3 told the tribunal that profits that accrued from the investments were credited back into the accounts. While two of the accounts are in Naira, the three others were Pounds Sterling, Euro and Dollar accounts. The witness told the tribunal that all the accounts were domiciliary, and were opened and managed at the branch of the bank in Wuse 2, Abuja.
Before Mrs. Okagbue mounted the witness box, the PW-2, who is a retired Director at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, Mr. Awal Yakassai, told the Mr. Umar led three-man panel that contrary to what was alleged in the media, he said the suspended CJN owned only five houses.
He said it was not true that CCB investigators linked the ownership of 55 houses to the defendant. The witness made the disclosure after he was shown copies of Justice Onnoghen’s asset declaration forms, which the Federal Government tendered in evidence before the CCT.
The embattled CJN was said to have submitted the forms marked as Exhibit 2 and 3, to the CCB in 2014 and 2016.
Answering questions under cross-examination, the PW-2, told the tribunal that he served at the CCB for 29 years before he retired in April 2018. He admitted that the CCB was yet to verify Justice Onnoghen’s assets with a view to finding out if he made false declarations. Aside allegation that he failed to declare his assets as prescribed by the law, FG had in the charge marked CCT/ABJ/01/19, FG, alleged that Onnoghen operated five foreign bank accounts, contrary to section 15(2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
FG had insisted that it was the CCB that okayed Onnoghen’s trial based on certain infractions that were discovered in his asset declaration forms.
NIGERIA MAKING PROGRESS TO REVERSE U.S VISA RESTRICTIONS….PRESIDENT BUHARI
FOLARIN COKER’S DEATH, A GREAT LOSS TO LAGOS- SANWO-OLU
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has described the passing of the late Chief Nathaniel Folarin Coker as a great loss to the State and Nigeria as a whole.
Coker passed away on Wednesday in Lagos after a brief illness at the age of 97.
Sanwo-Olu in a condolence message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, on Thursday said the late Folarin Coker was one of the front-runners in the race towards making Lagos a leading State in Nigeria and the West Africa sub region.
The Governor said the late Coker’s contributions to the State’s public service as Permanent Secretary in different ministries are exemplary. He said the late administrator effectively combined work and social life in a way that impacted the State positively.
He said: “the late Folarin Coker lived a very good life. His demise, though a great loss to our dear State, should be celebrated. He served Lagos meritoriously as a public servant in various capacities, contributing his quota to the growth narratives of Lagos.”
“The late Chief Coker was also a socialite of note. I remember that as a young man, I always admired his candour whenever he spoke at social gatherings. He was a representation of the true spirit of Lagos.”
“His service to our dear State as Permanent Secretary took him to various ministries such as Education; Youth, Sports and Social Development, Trade, Mines and Natural Resources as well as the ministry of information and tourism, where he contributed meaningfully to the better and bigger Lagos narrative.”
“I pray for his soul to find peace with his creator. May God grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.’’
ENUGU RADIO SCHOOL: BRIDGING THE EDUCATION INEQUITY GAP
By Ekene Odigwe
Education gives us an understanding of the world around us and offers the opportunity for us to apply knowledge wisely. Irrespective of tribe, race, creed, and gender, education makes it possible for people to stand out as equals with other persons from different walks of life.
Currently, the global world is facing a crisis — one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending lives. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human, economic and social crisis. The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), which has been characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), is attacking societies to their core.
Unfortunately, the educational sector is a part of the receiving end paying a huge price. According to UNESCO, an estimated 1.725 billion learners have been affected as a result of school closures, representing about 99.9% of the world’s student population as of April 13th, 2020.
In Nigeria, over 80 million learners are affected by the shutdown of schools since March 2020. The educational system has been devastated and children from lower socio-economic families are bearing the brunt.
The pandemic has also forced many businesses to temporarily shut down. To cushion the effects, the world is embracing technological innovations. Virtual interactions are increasingly adopted to replace face-to-face engagements and limit the total disruption to many sectors.
As a result, education channels have changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, where teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. Classes are now held on virtual platforms like Zoom, Google Classrooms, Articulate 360, Lectora Inspire, among others.
But not every student can access these platforms.
As pleasant as this solution is, it is sad that students from under-served low-income communities are left out and unable to access learning during this period likely due to financial limitations, data expenses and limited technological savviness
For underprivileged children, this crisis is widening rather than narrowing the learning gaps.
To mitigate this challenge, Enugu State, in April 2020, embarked on airing school lessons two hours daily on the radio for primary and secondary school students. According to the Commissioner for Education, Professor Uchenna Eze, the project was launched by the ministry to assist pupils and students to keep up with the school curriculum.
The Enugu Radio School, done in partnership with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Enugu Zonal Station and The Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) with funding from the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Administration, has bridged the gap in limited access, provided earning power for teachers and helped prepare students especially those in the final stages.
Over the years it has been established that there is a drop in the number of children that return to school after a pandemic.
For Enugu State, this closure of schools is testing its education systems’ readiness and capacity to maintain student engagement and learning.
This is shedding renewed light on the inequities that exist across and within local governments that create barriers to quality education, especially for the marginalized communities.
Consequently, it is safe to say that Enugu state is prepared for school resumption. Recall that the Federal Government announced on July 30th that exit classes for Nigerian secondary schools were to resume on August 4th, 2020.
According to the government, the reopening of exit classes will enable the students to have two weeks to prepare for their West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination which is scheduled to start next week by August 17, 2020.
This unanimous decision was reached during a virtual consultative meeting between the Federal Ministry of Education, the Commissioner for Education in each of the 36 states of the Federation, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), the proprietors of private schools, and Chief Executives of examination bodies.
As education stakeholders around Nigeria enthusiastically support the government’s decision, parents and guardians are concerned about the health implications likely to arise and about how equipped students are to adapt and transition to this phased reopening of schools and new methods of learning.
Lack of quality basic education limits a nation’s potential for growth and development; adding COVID-19 pandemic to the mix is more worrisome for a developing nation like Nigeria. For the Nigerian child, both constitute emergencies and require urgent realistic solutions.
WHAT FACTORS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN REOPENING SCHOOLS?
In speaking with Ebere Okoye, the Director of iNSPARK Enterprise, an ICT hub within Enugu metropolis which offers graphic design and programming classes, she explains that the government has consistently not increased the education budget and the already existing infrastructures are not receiving the desired attention.
She argues that a clear plan must be developed, that first and foremost prioritizes the health and safety of students, educators, and families.
Likewise, Nneka Ikeji, a Chief Nursing Officer at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, who praised Governor Ugwuanyi’s actions with the provision of funding and equipping of public schools in Enugu State.
She suggested that more financial aid is still needed in terms of investing in the educational tools of the future alongside a total revamp of the educational sector.
Reforms in the national curriculum post-pandemic would be an effective way to bridge these gaps with priority given to newer courses like digital safety and Microsoft Office tools which can usher students into the modern era and prepare them for jobs of the future.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER SCHOOLS REOPEN?
Despite numerous complaints from the Basic Education administrators on the paucity of funds to improve educational infrastructure, the Federal Government matching grants remain unused at the Central Bank of Nigeria and is waiting to be accessed for the State’s development throughout the country.
These, no doubt, are tales of woe; elucidating an experience of the proverbial butcher’s son who suffers lack of meat and thus settles for the worst of the bones.
Catering for basic education is primarily the role of States through the existing 37 State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB) as stated in the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act of 2004.
The Act allows the federal governing agency, UBEC to share the costs of financing basic education with states through counterpart funding. It originally provides that the central government is to spend 2% of its annual budget on UBEC. To access the funds, states are expected to provide 50% of counterpart funds to match the amount approved by the federal government each year.
As schools have reopened, learning from other countries’ experiences will be especially useful and also finding a way to access the unutilized matching grant of 3,464,873,598.26 from the Universal Basic Education Commission from (2005 – 2019) will go a long way in enabling our students’ educational development in this digital era.
@ekeneodigwe is a Development Journalist with major impacts in Fact-checking, Covid19 Reporting and Ending female Genital Mutilation. He writes from Enugu, Nigeria https://muckrack.com/ekeneodigwe
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